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Here’s the Forecast for Retail Sales This Year

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Consumers are “in the driver’s seat.”

Retail industry sales are likely to grow between 3.7 and 4.2 percent this year over 2016, according to a new forecast from the National Retail Federation.

“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat. But this year is unlike any other – while consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade and other issues being debated in Congress.
“Lawmakers should take note and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers,” Shay said.

Online and other non-store/online sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 8 and 12 percent, according to NRF.

The economy is expected to gain an average of approximately 160,000 jobs a month. The number is down slightly from 2016 but consistent with labor market growth.

Unemployment is expected to drop to 4.6 percent by the end of the year.

Economic growth is likely to be in the range of 1.9 to 2.4 percent.

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“Prospects for consumer spending are straightforward – more jobs and more income will result in more spending,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Regardless of sentiment, the pace of wage growth and job creation dictate spending. Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy. It seems unlikely that businesses will notably increase investment until tax reform and trade policies are well-defined.”

Retail industry sales as defined by NRF include most traditional retail categories including non-store sales, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, specialty stores, and auto parts and accessories stores but exclude sales at automotive dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

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Pet Food Sales on Amazon Hit $1B

Blue Buffalo was the top-selling brand.

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BOSTON — Pet food sales on Amazon.com reached an estimated $1 billion in 2018, up 20 percent compared to 2017, according to data from Edge by Ascential.

According to the firm, the top five pet food brands (and their share of total pet food sales) on Amazon for 2018 were:

  1. Blue Buffalo (11%)
  2. Purina (9%)
  3. Hill’s (8%)
  4. Wellness (6%)
  5. Greenies (5%)

“Blue Buffalo’s continued top-selling status illustrates how important it is for brands to incorporate in their packaging what consumers are looking for: healthier pet foods,” said Pete Andrews, director of insights at Edge by Ascential. “Blue Buffalo’s top seller contains the keywords ‘Protection Formula’ and ‘Natural’ in the title.

“The brand includes in-depth content on their product detail pages along with complete ingredient lists, nutritional information, numerous customer reviews and peer-answered questions. The Blue Buffalo brand understands how important community is to the pet owner, whether they are shopping online or in-store. By encouraging consumer interaction on Amazon, brands can recreate some of the interactivity that pet owners value from brick-and-mortar stores.”

Other top-performing brands on Amazon in 2018 like No. 2 Purina (up 13 percent year-over-year), No. 10 Rachael Ray (up 27 percent) and No. 6 Fancy Feast (up 17 percent) demonstrate that pet owners are choosing brands with “the right combination of pet nutrition and shopper value,” according to Edge by Ascential.

“Amazon’s own label Wag, launched halfway through 2018, brought in almost $2 million in sales in 2018, a negligible share in the current Pet Food category,” Andrews said. “Not long after its Wag launch, Amazon began offering its dry dog food under the Solimo private brand as well. Much of the on-page content is nearly identical but Solimo actually offers more A+ content and a cheaper equivalent to Wag.

“Whether this is an A/B test on Amazon’s part to identify the effects of small product differences on sales or a transition away from Wag is yet to be determined – but it does suggest that Amazon is not yet ready to challenge major pet food brands head-on while they still gather experimental data.”

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Demand for Sustainable Pet Products Is Up, and Most Firms Aren’t Prepared, Report Finds

225+ responses were collected from pet industry professionals.

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The World Pet Association and the Pet Sustainability Coalition have released a report focusing on sustainability in the pet sector, highlighting advancing business opportunities for environmentally and socially friendly pet product companies.

The report, analyzing over 225 responses from pet industry professionals, reveals a dramatic increase in demand for sustainable products, explores where companies are encountering roadblocks to successful sustainability programs, and examines what tools and resources are available within the industry.

Expectations are increasing, and fast

The data shows a dramatic increase in pressure on businesses to expand their responsibility strictly from shareholder value to now include demonstrating responsible treatment of communities and environments where they do business. The expansion in business accountability means that brands are held accountable not just for their own direct business practices, but also the practices of their tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers.

Current sustainability programs are ineffective

Only 23 percent of pet industry professionals rank their own sustainability program as effective, and 26 percent report that they have no sustainability program at all.

Support is needed to create success

This increase in accountability for businesses is fueling a need for more education to inform the industry about what is expected of them and where their current performance is, tools to ease implementation and collaborative opportunities particularly for small businesses that need more leverage to drive systematic improvement in areas that are too large for one company to change on its own.

Download the full report here: https://mailchi.mp/petsustainability.org/industryreport2019

PSC was founded in 2013 with the mission to advance business through environmental and social business practices.

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45-Store Pet Chain Acquired

Its 494 employees will be retained.

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Independent Pet Partners has acquired Chuck & Don’s, a pet supplies chain with 45 locations spread across four states, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

New York-based Independent Pet Partners plans to retain Chuck & Don’s 494 workers, according to the Business Journal.

Jeff David, CEO of Independent Pet Partners, was quoted saying the acquisition “gives IPP a valuable and strong brand that can help us continue to strive to make pet parenting simple, smart, social and fun.”

Founded in 1990, Chuck & Don’s has locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Colorado.

Its 2016 sales totaled nearly $68 million.

With this deal, Independent Pet Partners, which has purchased several pet chains, now has 160 stores across 12 states and Washington, D.C., the Business Journal reports.

Read more at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

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